Shonen anime protagonists usually have their families out of focus, or not have families at all. The usual story in a shonen is about the characters, but rarely is there a focus on their home life and its effect on the characters themselves.
As childhood development is significant, it's a shame when families become dysfunctional or otherwise abusive in fiction or life. This article will go over ten shonen protagonists with dysfunctional families, ranked from least to most dysfunctional.
Note: This article is only the author's opinion and will contain spoilers as to all the anime discussed. It will also include discussions of abuse and death.
Note 2: There can, and will, always be worse. This list is neither exhaustive nor comprehensive of the dysfunctional/abusive families in shonen anime.
Ten dysfunctional shonen protagonist families ranked from least to most
10) Konata Izumi (Lucky Star)
Though female shonen protagonist Konata Izumi from Lucky Star is a relatively eccentric and friendly kid, her family is very dysfunctional. Her mother, Kanata, died when Konata was barely an infant, and her father, Sōjirō, is a pervert who finds high schoolers attractive. This tends to make interactions with her friends and family awkward, as her father has a tendency to look at her friends and make them feel unsafe.
9) Ramna Saotome (Ranma 1/2)
Ramna's dad, Genma Satome, from Ramna 1/2 isn't exactly the best person, seemingly only concerned with himself, and his major mistake is the curse where Ramna turns into a girl. Ramna's mother, Nodoka, weirdly tries to get Ramna to "prove" his masculinity on more than one occasion by encouraging him to peep at girls. Masculinity is a social construct, and no wonder Ramna doesn't have a great relationship with his family.
The problems may also stem from Nodoka not seeing Ramna since he was two years old and Genma using Ramna to fix his various mistakes. Also, Genma and Nodoka promised to both commit seppuku if Ramna wasn't made into "the manliest of men," which ties into it, too, with Genma having to hide his and Ramna's curses from her.
8) Killua Zoldyck (Hunter x Hunter)
An assassin family where half want to control him, Killua doesn't have a great family. Killua's family wants to control him in many ways. His brother Illumi Zoldyck has a rod in his brain to control him, his mother dotes on him to embrace the assassin's livelihood. His other brothers are very jealous of him.
The only person he gets along with is his younger sister Alluka, mostly because she's the only one who takes kindly to him. Killua's father, Silva, being colder and more pensive towards Killua, seemed to let Killua leave only to state he'd return one day confidently. The whole family looks pretty controlling.
7) Shoto Todoroki (My Hero Academia)
Tritagonist Shoto Todoroki of the shonen anime My Hero Academia rivals Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender in terms of their family issues and especially their abusive fathers. The difference is that Ozai tried to kill Zuko on more than one occasion, whereas Endeavor never quite got there.
An abusive father that messed up the entire family? Check. Distant relationship bordering on hostility with said father? Check. Father abuse being part of a villain's origin? Check. Endeavor's actions did far more than this, splitting the Todoroki family apart and throwing Shoto's mother into a mental institution. While Endeavor is trying to be better, his ambitions tore his family apart.
6) Light Yagami (Death Note)
Light Yagami, aka Kira, is the villain protagonist of the shonen anime Death Note. He has a whole family during the start featuring a workaholic "Justice first, the family later" police officer father, a kind-hearted mother, and a sister trying to attend university. The major dynamic is between father and son, as Light's father hunts Kira down, though he refuses to believe Light is Kira even as he dies.
By the end of the series, the family is utterly broken. Light dies, his father dies, his sister is horrifically traumatized from being kidnapped by the Mafia (which Light allowed), and his mother is taking care of her. It's an example of how one person's horrid misdeeds can bring a family down.
5) Seto Kaiba (Yu-Gi-Oh!)
Even someone as arrogant and hard-headed as shonen rival Seto Kaiba can have problems with his parents. Gozaboro Kaiba wasn't the best father, discarding the third Kaiba Noah into a virtual world due to his disabilities and generally grooming and molding Seto to his exacting specifications for an ideal heir to the Kaiba empire.
It worked too well, as Kaiba would be cold and emotionally distant until the fateful duel with Yugi Moto. While some of his arrogance was intact, Seto would become protective of his brother Mokuba and risk life, limb, and soul for him. Much better than his jerk of an adoptive father ever was.
4) Nagisa Shiota (Assassination Classroom)
The main shonen protagonist and verbally and emotionally abused narrator of the battle shonen anime Assassination Classroom is made on this list due to an abusive mother. Hiromi Shiota's tries to live vicariously through Nagisa, attempting to make him a girl via growing his hair long, cross-dressing, and generally having episodes of semi-psychotic rage whenever he talked back or disobeyed her.
It's this rage that drove Nagisa's father away. Hiromi also displays a cold and overtly civil persona when in the presence of Nagisa's friends. This treatment early on and throughout the anime cause Nagisa to lack confidence in himself, stutter plenty when speaking on essential matters, and be very nervous and shy. Thanks to his classmates and Koro Sensei, however, he confronts his mother and eventually can have a better relationship with her.
3) Yuno Gasai (Future Diary)
Yuno Gasai from the shonen anime Future Diary, as revealed in her flashbacks, she was ceaselessly pushed to excel by her adoptive parents. When they ran into money problems, her kindly father, Ushio, began to stay late and work and hardly showed any love toward the two due to his busy schedule. While this is unfortunate enough, workaholism is a significant problem in Japanese work culture, and the blame falls mainly on Yuno's mother, Saika. Saika starved Yuno, hit her for talking back, and locked her in a cage! Eventually, Yuno turned this around on her parents, locking them in a cell instead. However, after failing to check on them, they starved to death.
2) Shinji Ikari (Neon Genesis Evangelion)
Infamous shonen protagonist Shinji Ikari's family consists of a mother long dead and a very emotionally distant father. So much so that upon their reunion some 14 years after Shinji's birth, the first thing Gendo asks him to do is pilot an Eva and fight a giant monster. Their relationship doesn't get any better from there at all.
While the reasons for Gendo's treacherous behavior are further examined in Rebuild, it's still a horrid relationship they have where the father uses the son solely as a weapon. Of course, the twisted knife let him and Rei Ayanami get close, only to use Rei as an instrument for The Third Impact and the Human Instrumentality Project.
1) Hyakkimaru Daigo (Dororo)
No father worthy of the title will ever abuse his children, period. The shonen protagonist Hyakkimaru's father, Kagemitsu Daigo, must take after Gendo Ikari because he served him up to demons as a sacrifice to ensure his kingdom's prosperity. Once they meet back up again, there's no remorse or feelings of guilt on his father's side. Kagemitsu wanted to rule the land, and the consequences would be damned.
The infant Hyakkimaru was born without any limbs or organs and is thus on a lifelong quest to reclaim them. Dysfunctional is a kind word for this situation. Hyakkimaru's mother, Nui No Kata, was the only kind one in this twisted family as she renounced her devilish husband in search of her child. Tahomaru, Hyakkimaru's brother, even chose to face his brother in mortal combat with ruthless and reckless abandon.
Poll : Do dysfunctional families mess kids up?